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I MEET AN ADEPT                      265
that if the reptile bit him there would be no one "to give feed to my family 1" Apparently, long habit of giving feed to donkeys had caused him to regara his own family as being much on the level with the donkeys in their demands for necessary sustenance. Anyway, he was well-mannered and possessed an excellent sense of humour; in short, I liked him.
He completed negotiations with the contractor and, terms being arranged, he returned in due course with a nice-looking, large-sized, well-saddled white donkey. I climbed on to the animal and it started off. All went well until we reached the river-bank, where we three were taken on to a boat and sailed for the western side of the broad grey Nile. Having disembarked, I mounted again and set off on the seven-mile journey to the Valley.
It did not take more than a quarter of an hour's riding to discover, and to confirm, the fact that the beast belied its attractive looks. When at long last we had covered nearly half the distance I complained to Youssef that either his powers of selection were not up to the high standard which they doubtless usually maintained, or else that the contractor's herd must have been extremely meagre in quality if this animal represented his best specimen. I added that it was quite a lazy creature and I regretted to have to accuse it of being fonder of sleep than of moving. Youssef threw up his hands and turned the white of his eyes to the sky. "In sha Allah!" he exclaimed, astonished. "Who are we to dare to correct the Almighty's handiwork?"
I found his question unanswerable and thereafter relapsed into eternal silence on that particular subject. We left the maize-bearing fields behind; and took little more than a glance at the twin Colossi of Memnon—a pair of giant statues whose perished faces are entirely featureless, whose deformed throne-seated bodies once rested on sentry-duty in front of the pylon of a vanished palace-temple built by Amenhotep HI, and who rise fifty feet high above the wheat-field which has replaced the temple. Without noses, without eyes, without ears and without mouths, the Colossi sit as they have sat for Centuries, lamenting perhaps, as the Roman visitor Petronianus has scratched on the base, the injuries inflicted upon them by the Persian invader Cambyses, Once a stone causeway stretched back for more than a thousand feet behind them, with pairs of statues and sphinxes marking the sides. All this has gone